‘CANDY MAN’ VA DOCTOR JUST GOT HIS MEDICAL LICENSE SUSPENDED FOR ‘DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS’ OPIOID POLICIES — The infamous Dr. David Houlihan, known by veterans and employees at the Tomah VA medical center as the ‘Candy Man’ for his dangerous opioid prescription practices, has just had his medical license suspended in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board came to its decision after a deep investigation into Houlihan, the former Chief of Staff at Tomah, WKOW 27 reports. Houlihan’s opioid policies were called “downright dangerous” at a board hearing Wednesday morning. While the VA fired Houlihan in November 2015 for the culture of fear and retaliation he created, but principally for his incredibly lax opioid prescription policies, he still had his license. The board finally took action against Houlihan after he decided to open up a psychiatry practice on his own. Yolanda McGowan, attorney for the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, stated that Houlihan only met the standard of care for two patients out of an examined sample size of 27. In another case, Houlihan added a prescription of Suboxone to a 35-year-old patient in 2014, even though the patient was taking numerous other medications, leading to a toxic combination. The patient died.
SOLDIER WHO SHOT AT POLICE, FIREFIGHTERS NOW ELIGIBLE FOR VA BENEFITS — Joshua Eisenhauer is a civilian now, a veteran eligible for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The former Fort Bragg staff sergeant — who shot at police and firefighters from his Fayetteville apartment in January 2012 — was released from the Army in late February on a general discharge under honorable conditions, said his mother, Dawn Erickson. The designation ensures that Eisenhauer, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, is eligible for VA benefits. But Eisenhauer won’t receive those benefits while he is in a North Carolina prison. Eisenhauer was sentenced in August to between 10 and 18 years behind bars after pleading guilty in February 2015 to shooting at the police and firefighters from his Austin Creek apartment. Eisenhauer contends that he had a flashback to his days of Army combat duty in Afghanistan and didn’t understand what he was doing. No one other than Eisenhauer was seriously injured.
VETERANS UPSET WITH PLANS FOR GI BILL CUTS — WASHINGTON – Some veterans are blasting plans to slash college subsidies for service members’ children. One of the most lucrative benefits in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the subsidy covers college tuition and housing for active-duty service members, who are allowed to pass their benefits to their spouses and children. Last month, the House chopped the housing subsidy for dependents in half. The chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, said he also backs a “common-sense” cut. Paul Rieckhoff, CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said it’s unfair to cut so deeply a benefit that can be worth tens of thousands of dollars per year. “Our community is outraged this is even an issue,” he told a joint hearing of the House and Senate veterans’ affairs committees this week. However, a review of the housing benefit found that payouts, which vary by location, often exceed actual costs.
PITTSBURG MOTHER WARNS OF PTSD’S DANGERS AFTER SOLDIER SON COMMITS SUICIDE — A mom in Pittsburg wants to speak out about the signs of post traumatic stress disorder after her soldier son killed himself recently. The family of 30-year-old army veteran Terry O’Hearn is holding a memorial service for him at the VFW Post in Antioch this Saturday. His mother Robin Kiepert wants to help other military families struggling to cope with PTSD. Kiepert says Terry was loving, playful and easygoing when he enlisted in the Army. As a soldier, he saw combat during two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He survived with minor physical injuries, but the emotional wounds ran deep. “When he got back from Afghanistan, he was angry. His personality really changed,” said Kiepert. She says the change was initially understandable because there is a period of adjustment to civilian life. But over time, it became more pronounced and then a suicide attempt, followed by treatment at the VA hospital in Palo Alto. She says Terry was diagnosed with PTSD.
VETERANS MEDALS — IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME COMING —
Like the majority of World War II veterans, Edward Matako and Harold Reed never thought about earning medals for their service to country, nor did they expect any. But the two Kern River Valley veterans not only received their long overdue and well-deserved medals, they received them in a big way thanks to the efforts of Congressman Kevin McCarthy and local veteran advocate Gary Zuber who organized a special medal presentation ceremony last week. Despite the afternoon rain and cold temperatures, approximately 100 local veterans and guests gathered at Paradise Cove restaurant on Friday, March 11, where Congressman McCarthy recognized both Matako and Reed for their impressive accumulation of earned medals. Both Matako and Reed were aware that they would be receiving their medals of service, but it wasn’t until they walked into a packed room of fellow veterans and guests that they realized they were the guests of honor. “So many World War II veterans never received their medals,” Zuber said. “It was not due to an oversight, they just didn’t care about medals because they weren’t expecting anything.” Zuber said that with help from McCarthy’s office, area WWII veterans have finally been able to get the medals they deserve.
VA CIO ‘EXCITED’ ABOUT FITARA IMPLEMENTATION PROGRESS — The co-author of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act received a welcome update from the Department of Veterans Affairs CIO LaVerne Council on her agency’s FITARA implementation progress. “The VA earned a C rating in the initial scorecard for compliance to FITARA, which actually is one of the higher grades,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told Council during a March 16 subcommittee hearing. “Why do you think you got, relatively speaking, such a good grade as the baseline, but within that grade were other categories such as the data center consolidation [where] you got an F?” Council took that opportunity to address some of the concerns. She noted that VA has processes in place that will move the agency toward 100 percent implementation.
TRANSFORMING VETERANS INTO BUSINESS OWNERS — Leonardtown, MD – Project Opportunity, a free entrepreneurship class for veterans, is returning to the Southern Maryland Region this spring, thanks to a partnership with the St. Mary’s County Office of Economic Development, the Calvert County Department of Economic Development, the Southern Region Small Business Development Center, and the Southern Maryland Job Source. Project Opportunity is a 10-week intensive course that offers training, outreach services, technical assistance and financing opportunities to veterans who are considering starting a business or expanding their current small business. Coursework covers everything from fine tuning a business plan to locating resources and launching a business.
A VETERAN’S STORY: WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME — “You are always sending us to our deaths. We are soldiers, it is what we do.” — B. E. Forsythe
American military deaths in World War II numbered approximately 405,400, of which almost 20 percent are still listed as MIA (Missing in Action), suggesting that 78,750 human beings were unaccounted for. As of this writing, a mere 5,235 have been discovered, recovered, and returned home for proper burial. One MIA still awaiting discovery in the jungles of Burma is Rockdale resident SSgt. Johnny G. Williams. Minnie Lee Williams refused to accept the notion her son would never return home. Her husband, Robert J. Williams, owned and operated a shoe repair shop on Green Street in Olde Town Conyers. Minnie took in people’s laundry to help make ends meet and on occasion would take out her son’s clothes, wash and iron them, then neatly tuck his clothes in a dresser drawer. Minnie made sure Johnny had spotless clothes to wear upon his return. She never gave up hope. Johnny G. Williams joined the Army in March of 1941, almost nine months before his country entered WWII. A trailblazer for his race, Johnny was among the first African Americans to train and study at the ERTC (Engineer Replacement Training Center) at Fort Belvoir, Va. The units were still segregated: 28 companies of whites plus 12 companies of “colored”. Each group had 229 men. After additional training at Fort McClellan, Ala., Johnny was off to war.
VET GROUP’S SPENDING PROMPTS NEBRASKA DONOR ALARM —
Arnold Ralston has been donating $300 to $400 a year to a popular nonprofit organization that provides services to wounded veterans. So when the 81-year-old Army veteran from Grand Forks saw a recent national news report alleging that the charity– Wounded Warrior Project—spent about $3 million on a four-day conference for about 500 staff members at a luxury resort in Colorado in 2014, he got so upset, he called the charity’s Jacksonville, Fla., headquarters. “I talked to a guy in the head office and asked him how much he had to pay for his drinks at the party,” Ralston said. “He told me he didn’t pay anything. Ralston is not alone. The North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs has been busy fielding calls from many veterans since the recent reports by the New York Times, CBS News and other media. “Our office is getting a lot of calls, a lot of questions,” Commissioner Lonnie Wangen told the Herald. “Our recommendation is to go to our website. We steer them to veterans organizations that spend their money in North Dakota. We have some different websites for organizations we know are legitimate.”
PAWS ACT SEEKS TO HELP VETERANS WITH PTSD GET SERVICE DOGS — A bill introduced to the House of Representatives on Wednesday would create a program to help connect veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with service dogs. The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act, introduced by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), would establish a pilot program within the Veterans Administration. That program would provide a trained service dog to veterans who have severe levels of PTSD, and whose symptoms persist despite treatment. Under the bill the Veterans Administration would pay third-party dog training organizations for the dogs they provide to veterans in the program. To maintain eligibility for the program, the veteran must see a VA primary care doctor or mental health professional quarterly. The bill would authorize $27,000 for the VA to spend on each dog from an organization accredited by Assistance Dog International. It also includes VA health insurance for the dog. In total the PAWS Act allocates $10 million to fund the pilot program.